Govt to pay for unsafe cladding removal from high-rise buildings

Govt to pay for unsafe cladding removal from high-rise buildings
  Credit: REUTERS/Toby Melville

The government will pay for the removal of unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in high-rise buildings, housing secretary Robert Jenrick has announced.

Under plans announced today (February 10) the government will fully fund the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in residential buildings in England that are at least 18m high, with a grant worth £3.5bn, as part of a £5bn investment in building safety.

The commitment is part of a five-point plan to bring an end to unsafe cladding and provide reassurance to homeowners.

Jenrick said: “Our unprecedented intervention means the hundreds of thousands of leaseholders who live in higher-rise buildings will now pay nothing towards the cost of removing unsafe cladding.”

Leaseholders of lower-rise buildings between 11m and 18m will also gain protection from the cost of cladding removal, via a scheme which will allow them to pay for any necessary cladding removal through a long-term, low interest, government-backed financing arrangement.

According to the government, no leaseholder will ever pay more than £50 a month towards the removal of unsafe cladding under the scheme.

The government hopes this will provide reassurance and security to leaseholders, and that mortgage providers will be confident that properties will be worth lending against where cladding removal is required.

But according to Andrew Montlake, managing director at mortgage broker Coreco, the measures for lower-rise buildings did not go far enough.

Montlake said: “The government has turned its back on hundreds of thousands of leaseholders in dangerous buildings less than 18m high.

“A dangerous building is a dangerous building and its specific height should not be a deciding factor in whether leaseholders have the remediation works paid in full or not.”

Mortgage lenders Barclays and Nationwide, meanwhile, expressed their support for the announcement.

A spokesperson for Barclays said: “Barclays welcomes this announcement as a positive step forward. These changes will bring greater certainty and clarity for homeowners, prospective buyers and surveyors.

“We expect that will make it far easier for buyers, sellers and lenders to value properties, aiding this part of the housing market to start moving again.”

Joe Garner, chief executive officer at Nationwide Building Society, added: “Nationwide welcomes the £3.5bn grant funding the government has announced to ensure the cladding on peoples’ home is safe and to protect the people who live in them.

“This is a decisive step forward which we hope brings some relief to people worried about the safety of their homes.”

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